The Government’s proposed change to waste collection laws has come under fire from both sides.
The consultation on Defra and the Welsh Government’s amendments to the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 closed on 12 April.
The proposed amendment would mean commingled collections could continue only where separate collections were not “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” (TEEP) or necessary to meet “appropriate quality standards”.
But submissions to the consultation seen by MRW from two organisations both reject the amendment.
Both the Resource Association, which represents reprocessors, and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, part of the North London Waste Authority, said the proposed changes did not adequately transpose the requirements of the rWFD.
Waltham Forest - whose cabinet member for the environment, Clyde Loakes, is also the vice-chair of the Local Government Association’s environment board - said the amendment endorsed separate collections because it removed reference to other methods.
It said the amendment presumed separate collection promoted better quality recyclate.
The council is concerned the amendment does not provide flexibility to “deliver quantity of recyclables” and “allow best overall environmental outcome to be considered”. It said this could affect recycling rates.
It added that the European Commission had confirmed there was no intention to prohibit commingling. And that, without any guidance yet from Defra on assessing derogations from separate collection, the regulations should “recognise that commingling is a permissible collection method”.
“The risk of not doing so creates the potential of expensive challenge to local authorities,” it added.
The RA - which represents Aylesford Newsprint, Coca-Cola, Novelis, UPM, Eco-Plastics and others - also rejected the proposed amendment.
The organisation said it was concerned the amendment switched the wording of the rWFD from ‘necessary’ to ‘appropriate’ quality standard. It said this created “uncertainty and confusion in the recycling chain” and diminished the importance of quality standards.
Defra should have set in place discussions on quality standards and regulation earlier, the RA said, so that reprocessors could “have confidence” in its approach.
The RA said: “We feel we are left with no alternative at this stage other than to reject the Defra proposal.”
It called on Defra and the Welsh Government to consider reverting to the exact wording of the rWFD, but also reviewing the approach of the Scottish Government where commingling has a role only if quality meets the same standards as separately collected material.
The Defra proposal came in response to the judicial review brought by the Campaign for Real Recycling over the Governments’ transposition of the EC Revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD).